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KGM Torres EVX first drive – Korean ‘Gangnam-Style’ Mobility

Not only is KGM a new vehicle brand with decades of experience, but ‘it’s South Korean born and future bound’. This week we were invited to the NZ launch of the all-new KGM Torres SUV and at the same time, untangle the ambiguity that comes with this funky, yet intentionally disruptive brand.

KGM Torres NZ

Although it makes perfect sense for KGM to draw on its Ssangyong heritage (after all it is Korea’s oldest automotive manufacture), KGM is keen to promote that they are a Korean automotive brand that’s looking to create meaning, differentiation and salience by being distinctive, disruptive and of course, desirable.

KGM Torres NZ

KGM New Zealand’s Head of Brand Marketing Daile Stephens told us that their plan is to defy category conventions, saying that KGM may show up a bit differently to what the automotive industry is used to.

“Our aim is to elevate the offering of innovative KGM products in New Zealand with a refreshed brand identity, breaking away from the ordinary,” Daile says.

KGM Torres NZ

KGM believes that a key to their success will be to promote where they come from, for who they stand for. From automotive to electronics, Korean quality is well established in New Zealand, and there is a worldwide dissemination of Korean pop culture.

Daile says that as a nation, Korea focuses on culture first and economics second, and this K-everything (K-Auto, K-pop..) is a highly successful export.

KGM Torres NZ

“This Korean wave isn’t just limited to K-pop or the youth,” says Daile. “It’s sophisticated and it’s multi dimensional. It’s across the arts, music, drama, film, food and beauty. It’s multi dimensional, and gives us a really great opportunity for leverage in New Zealand.” 

And as if to underline all of the above, the launch of the KGM Torres (Torres, Torres 4WD and Torres EVX) included dinner at a very urban-chic Korean restaurant in downtown Auckland, with the next morning introducing us to the all-new SUV followed by a first drive.

KGM Torres NZ

When it comes to the new KGM Torres, New Zealand is/will be getting three variants, a front-wheel drive petrol powered model called Torres, an up-spec’d Torres 4WD model and an all-electric model called EVX. 

The 2WD and 4WD models have a 1.5L G-Di turbocharged engine 120kW/280Nm, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the EVX comes with a (BYD sourced) 73.4 kWh, usable capacity blade battery, powering a single electric motor that produces 150kW/339Nm to drive the front wheels and delivers a very respectable range of 462 km. It’s also worth noting that the battery warranty is an impressive 10 years or 1 million kilometres, whichever comes first.

KGM Torres NZ

The EVX also comes with a vehicle to load connector, so you can power up domestic appliances such as hair dryers, coffee machines, projectors, the list goes on, making the Torres a great camping buddy.

The Torres EVX is the first model to reflect the brand’s new design philosophy, which along with having its own unique identity, has visual elements of some of the best SUVs out there. There are hints of Jeep Wagoneer in the front, Hyundai Kona around the wheel arches, Ford Explorer in the rear lights and Land Rover Defender in the ranger door.

KGM Torres NZ

In terms of size, the Torres fits snugly between the medium-sized SUVs such as Korando and large SUVs like Rexton. And when it comes to colour schemes, the KGM Torres offers some rather swish combos. From white and platinum grey, through forest green and latte, to dandy blue, iron metal and black. The C-Pillar can also be either silver or black, depending on the colour combination. (The two tone option includes a black roof, mirrors, C-pillar and roof rails). 

Wheel size depends on the model, with the standard Torres sitting on 18-inches, while the EVX rides on 20s. Oh, and on the matter of the EVX, this modern EV comes with futuristic lighting features (particularly on startup) and is easy to spot next to its ICE-powered sibling.

KGM Torres NZ

Step inside of any Torres and the thing that you notice is the room. I’m not just talking passenger space either, the rear boasts a whopping 800 litres of load space with all seats up! The furniture is KGM version of vegan leather, however, leather is available on the 4WD.

KGM Torres NZ
Coat hanger on back of seats

With a technically-proficient target audience in mind, the Torres comes with a myriad of ultra-modern and driver and safety aids. Its dual 12.3” ‘Hypervisor’ system is pretty easy to navigate around and aside from its Apple and Android connectivity, there really is most of what you need in a vehicle’s infotainment system, and all at your fingertips. It’s quick too. 

KGM Torres NZ

With the petrol models unavailable, our drive was a couple of hour route from the CBD to Kumeu, enough to get a good taste of what the all-electric Torres was all about, and to be frank, it’s a Kinda Good Motor (KGM like KGM acronyms).

Its overall size, albeit large, is not too overpowering, even in the city. And the camera views and sensors ensure tight spaces don’t fluster. Of course battery range will somehow always be a talking point in an EV and our instrument cluster claimed a range in the mid 400’s (plenty for what lay ahead) but, switching off the AC gave us an extra 40km (around 12% difference).

KGM claims that the Torres EV’s 0-100km/h is in the region of 8.1 seconds, comparable to many other EVs in its class and although we didn’t test this, I felt that it was rapid enough not to disappoint.

KGM Torres NZ

The shift by wire toggle, took a little bit of poking to engage, however I feel that this was more a familiarity thing rather than an issue, but either way, when on the move, the EV SUV offered up a soft smooth ride (regardless of driving mode) and a respectable amount of wind/road noise. 

Although a little removed from what’s going on below, the joys of EPAS, the steering is nicely weighted (again regardless of driving mode) and the high seating position meant that visibility was good in all directions.

The KGM Torres has yet to be sent for ANCAP safety analysis (so no stars as yet), however, it actually comes with more ADAS here than in Korea. So things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot alerts, lane change assist, lane keep assist, rear collision warnings, cross traffic collision assist are all there to make your life easier and save it too. But I do wish to point out that the driver (or driving) monitor did tell me to ‘take a break’ a lot, either confirming my poor driving skills or just being a little too sensitive (the EVX not me).  

KGM Torres NZ

And for those with some furry friends, under the utility and air conditioning modes, you will have the ability to leave your dog inside your vehicle keeping it ventilated without compromising vehicle safety or startup. I’m sure someone will still smash your window ‘to save it’ though.

Price wise, KGM has sharpened their pencil’s well. The Torres RRP is $49,990, Torres 4WD $54,990 and the fully electric Torres EVX is $67,990 (with a special introductory RRP of $66,990 for the first 40 units).

KGM Torres NZ

One final point, for those that want to know, Torres is a name that was inspired by the breathtaking landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile – yeah I know that has nothing to do with Korea, but I guess a good fun fact.

Photo credit (the good ones) Chris Dillon

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